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Legacy Gazette: My Roots - My Legacy

The Genealogy of Melissa Watson Padilla Johnson

BRUCE, William

BRUCE, William

Male 1776 - 1854  (77 years)

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  • Name BRUCE, William 
    Born 6 Aug 1776  Elizabethtown, Lancaster, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Biographical Sketch 6 Aug 1851  Vincennes, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Memoirs of the Bruce Family 
    • The Indiana Magazine of History
      Volume 23 pages 63-72
      Date 1927

      Vincennes Indiana
      MEMOIRS OF THE BRUCE FAMILY
      August 6th, 1851
      BY
      WILLIAM BRUCE b. 1776 Aug. 6
      AGE 75

      My first recollection that I have of my ancestors was hearing my
      grandfather, James Bruce, telling that himself and a younger brother,
      George Bruce, came from Scotland about the year 1740. My grandfather
      located in Winchester, Virginia. He was a house carpenter by trade and
      I have heard him say that he built the first frame house that was ever
      built in that town. About the year 1744 he married Margaret McMahon and
      moved to the north branch of the Potomac in Maryland. He continued
      there following his trade and farming until he raised a large family of
      children.

      My father, William Bruce, was the eldest. He was born the 14th day of
      February, 1745. He James Bruce had two sons younger than my father and
      six daughters viz.. Elizabeth, who married a man by the name of Thomas
      Anderson; Margaret, who married David Cox; Jane was married to a
      William Marshall; Nancy, that married Samuel Percifull; Ann, who
      married Samuel Glass, and James who married Polly Runyan; George that
      married the widow Biggs. My father married a widow Percifull, and the
      youngest sister, Sally, married a Joshua Carmen, a Baptist Preacher, a
      man of excellent character and considerable speaker. He moved to the
      state of Ohio about 50 years ago, raised a large family and died in a
      good old age - about 85. From the above enumerated uncles and aunts
      there has sprung an almost innumerable multitude. They mostly moved to
      Kentucky at an early day and settled in Nelson County.

      My father, soon after marrying my mother, moved to the Monongahela;
      settled about 14 miles above Pittsburgh, between the mouths of Peteso
      Creek and Newels Store, now Elizabethtown. It was then the haunts of
      Indians and forts were the only place of safety for the families of
      those hardy pioneers. I had two sisters older than myself, that was
      born in the fort and myself, the third child soon after they ventured to
      their farms. I was born on the 6th of August, 1776, one month and two
      days after independence was declared. I can, with the Apostle Paul, say
      that I was free born, while out forefathers had to obtain their freedom
      by their blood and treasure.

      During the Revolutionary War, my father was frequently called upon to
      perform military service. The first that I recollect him talking about
      was being stationed at a place then called Catfish Camp, called after an
      old Indian Chief, near a place now called Red Stone. My father served
      then in capacity of Lieutenant. The next service he performed was under
      General George Rogers Clarke. He commanded a company under the veteran
      soldier to Louisville; was absent from home some five or six months.

      As to my mother's family, I have a very imperfect knowledge. Her maiden
      name was Polly Lucas. Her first husband was Richard Percifull. After
      his death she married my father. My grandmother [grandfather] by my mother's side
      was William Lucas. What my grandmother Lucas's maiden name was I never
      learned, as she died about my first recollection. My grandfather Lucas
      died before I was born. All I know of him is that he was a seafaring
      man. I recollect an Uncle Robinson Lucas and two aunts. They married
      the brothers, William and Dennis Murphy; moved to the state of Ohio at
      an early date.

      As I before observed I was born at a time that tried man's soul. None
      but a man that had no fear of Indians but their prudence would venture
      to risk his family where the prowling wolf and sub-tile savage roamed.
      Then the Whig and Tory often lived in one fort, but it happened that my
      grandfather and father were true American Whigs. I fortunately partook
      of the same spirit and have retained it to this day. When I was about
      nine years old my father sold his plantation on the Monongahela and
      moved to Kentucky - I think it was in the fall, 1784. We landed at the
      mouth of the Bear Grass.

      Louisville was then a small village and there was a garrison with some
      United States troops kept there. We lived there that winter and in the
      spring of 1785 move on the waters of Coxes Creek named after my uncle
      David Cox, that had settled there a few years previous (now Nelson
      County). My father bought two hundred acres of land and commenced
      making a farm. The first settlers had just ventured from their forts.
      I recollect having to stand and watch while my father was at work with
      his rifle well braced standing against a tree close at hand. About this
      time Colonel Isaac Cox was killed by the Indians while out surveying on
      a branch called Powelsbern waters of the East fork of Coxes Creek, and
      about four miles from where my father lived. This made quite a stir in
      the neighborhood and men were stationed at different places along the
      frontier settlements. That was the last murder that was committed by
      the Indians, between Salt River and Bardstown. From that time on until
      the close of the Indian war, after General Anthony Wayne gave them such
      a scourging, times gradually became more safe and settlements were
      pushed on to the Ohio River.

      At the age of 22 I was married to the third daughter of Captain Polke
      of Shelby County, and the youngest of the four children of his that were
      taken prisoners by the Indians. When they took and burnt his fort he
      had been called away with his company of militia from Simpson's Creek,
      where his fort stood, to succor the forts on Bear Grass, as it was
      believed that the enemy in a large body was about making a descent on
      the forts in that quarter from the sign that had been discovered, but
      the wily savages after they found that the principal part of the men had
      been called away, changed their course and near 100 of them attacked
      Polke's station, killed several and took the rest prisoners after
      burning the fort. Among the prisoners was my mother-in-law and the four
      children above mentioned, to wit: William Polke, who has been a very
      conspicuous character from the early settling of Knox County, Indiana,
      until his dream about eight years ago, having filled various important
      trusts. He was one that helped frame the first Constitution for Indiana
      in 1816, commissioner of the Michigan road for a number of years,
      frequently served in the legislature of the state and was register of
      the Land Office at Fort Wayne at the time of his death. The eldest
      daughter, Elizabeth, married Captain Spier Spencer, who fell in the
      battle of Tippecanoe of the Indian fighting notoriety, whose death was
      much lamented. The second daughter, Nancy, married Peter Ruby. Some of
      her children are still living in Knox County. The third, Sally, became
      my wife October 23rd, 1798.

      I then bought me a small tract of land on the waters of Coxes Creek,
      Nelson County, Kentucky, made a small farm when an older claim took it
      away from me. I then packed up what little plunder I had, my wife and
      four children, on horseback and moved to Vincennes, Knox County,
      Indiana, in the Spring of 1805, rented five acres of ground to raise
      corn for which I paid 25 dollars cash. Pretty tough times. That summer
      I purchased 200 acres on which Bruceville now stands, built a cabin and
      in October the same year move to it. I had a few white neighbors
      scattered about and quite a number of red skins hunting and travelling
      through all parts of our county, the Dellewars. Miames, Shawnees,
      Potenotomies, etc., but at that time they were entirely
      friendly and continued so until Tecumseh commenced collecting them at
      Tippecanoe in 1809. 10 and 11, when we had to be on our guard. In
      September, 1811, the expedition to the Prophets Town started up the
      Wabash.

      The summer before I had been ordered by General William Henry Harrison,
      Governor and Commissioner in Chief of the Northwest Territory, to bring
      my command of militia to Vincennes and to remain there twenty days, as
      it was then thought that the Indians intended to make a descent on
      Vincennes, and was continued there twenty days; and, as I was the oldest
      Captain in the regiment I had performed a tour, the next oldest was called
      from our battalion and, as I could not go as an officer, I turned out a volunteer
      in the spring under Captain Touraint Dubois, and a more brave and patriotic
      man did not live, loved by his men and true to his country.  Some years after
      he was drowned on the road from St. Louis home, regretted by all who had
      the slightest acquaintance with him. The army marched about two miles
      above Terre Haute and there built Fort Harrison and called it after out patriotic
      General. We was about one month erecting the fort. When completed the
      army pursued its route up the Wabash to the mouth of big Vermillion where
      we halted one day and built a block house.

      From that point six of the spies and six of the Robbs company was
      ordered back by General Harrison, myself among the number, to have the
      militia in a state of readiness; kept scouts passing every day from
      Wabash to White river lest the Indians should fall in rear of the army
      and surprise and butcher the frontier settlements, as Harrison was well
      acquainted with the Indian character (which) caused this precaution.
      The battle was fought the 7th of November. 1811, when our poor men were
      badly handled and the Indians worse.

      The night of the battle myself in company with my Lieutenant, now
      Esquire Wilkins of Merom, Sullivan County, encamped about one and one
      half miles west of where Edwardsport now stands, having been on the
      lookout between the two rivers. After a few months of calm, the
      difficulties broke out afresh. The citizens had to build stockade forts
      for the protection of their families. We suffered many inconveniences
      from being so crowded together, nevertheless quite peaceable and happy.
      Nothing like enemies without to make peace within. The fort I lived in
      was on my own place. Some of the rails made white oak picket, I believe
      is in existence yet. When peace was again made it terminated the third
      frontier life that I had experienced, and I hope the last.

      My family still increased until the year 1818, when I had the misfortune to lose
      my companion. She died after giving birth to our fifteenth child, eight
      boys and seven girls, eleven of whom were living at the time of her
      death. She was a pious and worthy member of the Baptist Church,
      and had been for a number of years, and not a doubt remains with
      me but that her pure spirit winged its way to the climes of immortal
      glory.  In 1819 I married my second, Hetty R. Holmes, daughter of William and
      Elizabeth Ann Holmes; they moved from North Elkhorn, Fayette County,
      near Lexington, Kentucky. My present wife is still living, a healthy
      woman in her 57th year. She has had ten children, seven boys and three
      girls, nine of which are living.

      As I have given a general history of my ancestors as far back as I have
      my recollection, I will give a more particular detail of my brothers and
      sisters together with my immediate family and their fruitful increase.

      My eldest sister married on Joshua McDonald. They are both dead. Some
      of their children live in this state.

      My second sister, Margaret, married John Spencer, oldest brother of
      Spier Spencer that fell in the battle of Tippecanoe. They had twelve or
      fourteen children, some living in Terre Haute and near, but most of them
      in Boon County in this state. My sister is still living now in her 77th year,
      two years older than myself.

      My brother James that was 15 months younger than myself married
      Polly Froman in Kentucky; moved to Rough Creek Brackinridge County,
      Kentucky, had a large family; they mostly reside in the same county. He
      has been dead about 17 or 18 years.

      My younger sister, Polly, married John Glasscock; they had but three
      children. She is still living in the 71st year of her age. They live in
      Brackinridge County.

      As I have before informed you who I married  and when I moved to this
      state and were I settled, I will now inform you of the increase of my family.
      In the first place, I had twenty-five children, fifteen boys and ten girls,
      sixteen of which is now living, five died in their infancy; four since they
      arrived to maturity.

      My oldest son, Charles P Bruce, married Angelina C. Wright in the
      state of Ohio, by whom he had four children. After her death he married
      Nancy P. Harrison, daughter of Joshua Harrison of Montgomery County.
      His last wife had ten children, ten of the fourteen still living. Charles died
      last summer.

      William D. Bruce married Betsey Polke, had six children, four of which
      is still living. He died fifteen years ago this month. His widow
      married again, lives on the Illinois river, state of Illinois.

      My eldest daughter, Delilah, married John A. Holmes, brother to my second
      wife. They have had twelve children, eight of which is now living.
      They live in Ogle County, Illinois, near Buffalo Grove Post Office.

      My third living son, Spier Bruce, married Rachel Chambers, by whom he had
      nine children; three are dead and she also. His second wife was the
      widow Lite. They live in this county.

      My second daughter, Polly, married Squire Bruce, they also live in Ogle
      County, Rock River, Illinois. They have had twelve children, seven of
      whom are living.

      My third daughter, Betsey, married John Lafollette. They live in Putnam
      County in this state, had twelve children, eight of whom are living.

      Lucinda, my fourth daughter, married John H. Scroggin. They had six
      children, one dead, he died also about three years ago. She is a widow,
      lives in Bruceville.

      My fourth son, Henry H. Bruce, married Jane Singleton, they had four
      children, three of them are living. She died and he married his second wife,
      Mary Ann Cooper; has one child; lives in Kansas on the Missouri river,
      state of Missouri.

      My next daughter, Kitty Ann, died in her fourteenth year.

      My fifth son, Isaac D. Bruce, has had three children, one dead;
      he is now in California, if living.

      My fifth daughter, Sally, married Vincent S. McClure, they have had four
      children, three living. They live near Shaker Prairie in this county.

      My eldest son, Weston H. Bruce (by my second wife and my sixth
      married son) married America Singleton, had two children, lived in Kansas,
      Missouri, died about two years ago. His widow married again and now
      lives near Nishnabattery on the Missouri river.

      My seventh married son, James C. Bruce, married Martha Elliott. They
      have one child, live about one mile from Bruceville.

      Harvey J. Bruce, my eighth, married Mary Rader, had five, all living. His
      place joins mine.

      My sixth married daughter, Nancy Ann, married James F. McClure, has
      had five children, three of them living, lives in this county near Shaker
      Prairie.

      John H. Bruce, my ninth married son, married Angelina Threlkeid, lives
      about three miles from Bruceville.

      Elnor, my seventh married daughter, married William Simpson. Has had
      three children, two living. They live about three quarters of a mile
      from Bruceville.

      I have my three youngest living with me, Margaret, my youngest daughter,
      David C. and William D., the second William born about four days before
      his brother William died. He was fifteen years old the twelfth day of
      August 1851, and is now six feet high and pretty well proportioned.

      I have been blessed with healthy, industrious and economical wives,
      otherwise my lot would have been more severe. I have always been
      blest with sufficient food and raiment to get along comfortable, never
      burdened with wealth or distressed with penury.

      My sons and sons-in-law have been sober industrious men, all doing
      reasonable well. They, with their wives are almost all professors of
      the Christian religion and most of them belong to the Christian
      congregation Disciples.

      The living members of my family are sixteen children, seventy-two
      grandchildren, husbands and wives; seventeen great-grandchildren; myself
      and wife, making a total of 117; 30 dead.

      Thus far the good Lord has brought me and prospered me. I have
      endeavored (as far as my fallible nature would permit) to pursue an
      upright and honest course and the Lord has been my helper and in His

      merits is my trust. I am now at the advanced age of 75 years, and have
      never been one day without something to eat and reasonable raiment -
      "Blessed be His holy name." I have enjoyed uncommon health, never been
      confined to my bed an entire day in my life, although I feel the outer
      man decay very sensible, yet my health is uncommon good. My action is
      gone, my energy is failing fast, my sight has become so dim that I do
      not know one of my family half-way across the house, but can still see
      to read and write without my glasses. How great that blessing is.

      About the year 1800 my first wife and myself united with the Baptist
      Church on Coxes Creek, Nelson County, Kentucky, (William Tulo). We
      continued our membership there until the spring 1805, when we received
      letters of dismission and moved to Knox County, Indiana (then
      Territory). About the fall 1807, as well as I recollect, we collected
      twelve or fourteen scattering Baptists over as many miles around and
      were constituted a church by John Taylor and William Keller of
      Kentucky. The Constitution took place at my house on the tract of land
      that Bruceville now stands on. We called it the Wabash Church. We
      still gathered a few by letter, some by baptism. Our first preacher was
      a William Braselton, quite a speaker, but possessed of considerable
      enthusiasm. When the Shakers located themselves in this county he was
      carried off by them and we were happily rid of him and wife.
      We increased until we were strong enough to build us a comfortable log
      house to worship in, on the same ground that the Presbyterian brick
      house now stands on the road leading from Bruceville to Vincennes. Some
      years after a number of my first wife's family and other Baptists moved
      on Mariah Creek and concluded to be constituted a church there, and when
      my wife and I received letters of dismission and was constituted a
      church; called it Mariah Creek Church. Our membership continued there
      until her death in 1810. The church prospered greatly for several years
      after. I think that when a few of us at Bruceville (say nine)petitioned
      for letters of dismission, that as well as I recollect, the church
      numbered 170 members, but suspicion got afloat that we intended to be
      constituted on the scriptures without any other creed or confession of
      faith. The spirit of persecution commenced and on the day we were
      constituted, some twenty or more of their members broke off from them
      and were constituted with us. From that time the old members broke off
      from them and our congregation increased under the ministry of Brother
      David Warford first and Brother Maurice R. Trimble next, until our
      church numbered over one hundred. And the good Lord still blesses us
      with prosperity under the ministry of Brother Wolfe who preaches for us
      once a month. But the persecuting spirit of a few of their members of
      poor old Mariah Creek Church against us and others that think the
      scripture sufficient fuel for our faith and practice, has reduced them
      to a mere skeleton.

      Thus far I have given a correct history of my ancestors and my own
      family as my imperfect memory would allow together with the length of
      time and want of records would allow and only have to regret that my
      progress in the line of life has been so small.
    Died 23 Apr 1854  Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I13099  My Roots
    Last Modified 19 Aug 2013 

    Father Ancestors BRUCE, William,   b. 14 Feb 1745, Maryland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Aug 1818, Vincennes, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years) 
    Mother Ancestors LUCAS, Maria "Polly",   b. 1745, , , Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1805, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 60 years) 
    Married 1771  , , Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 5 children 
    Family ID F4531  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Ancestors POLKE, Sarah "Sally",   b. 1780,   d. 1818  (Age 38 years) 
    Married 23 Oct 1798 
    Children 
     1. BRUCE, Son,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. BRUCE, Son,   d. Yes, date unknown
     3. BRUCE, Son,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. BRUCE, Daughter,   d. Yes, date unknown
     5. BRUCE, Charles P,   b. 15 Oct 1799, Coxes Creek, Nelson, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Sep 1850, Ladoga, Montgomery, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 50 years)
     6. BRUCE, William D,   b. 28 Mar 1801, Coxes Creek, Nelson, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Aug 1836, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 35 years)
     7. BRUCE, Delilah Tyler,   b. 3 Sep 1802, , Nelson, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Mar 1881, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years)
     8. BRUCE, Spier Spencer,   b. 11 Feb 1804, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Sep 1864, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 60 years)
     9. BRUCE, Mary "Polly",   b. 6 Sep 1805, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1860, , Ogle, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 54 years)
     10. BRUCE, Elizabeth "Betsey",   b. 13 Nov 1807, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Sep 1883, , Putnam, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
     11. BRUCE, Lucinda,   b. 1 Feb 1809, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Feb 1870, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 61 years)
     12. BRUCE, Henry Harrison,   b. 16 Oct 1810, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Feb 1862, Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 51 years)
     13. BRUCE, Kitty Ann,   b. 26 Jan 1812, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 May 1825, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 13 years)
     14. BRUCE, Isaac Dunn,   b. 30 Oct 1813, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     15. BRUCE, Sara "Sally",   b. 15 Nov 1815, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Apr 1858, Irving, Lane, Oregon Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 42 years)
    Last Modified 7 Dec 2011 
    Family ID F4716  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 HOLMES, Hettie Richey,   b. 1794, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1868  (Age 74 years) 
    Married 1819  Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. BRUCE, Weston H,   b. 23 Dec 1819, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Feb 1849  (Age 29 years)
     2. BRUCE, James C,   b. 16 Apr 1821, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Mar 1899, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
     3. BRUCE, Harvey J,   b. 27 Mar 1823, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Jun 1912  (Age 89 years)
     4. BRUCE, Nancy Ann,   b. 15 Nov 1824, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 Aug 1900, Junction City, Lane, Oregon Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
     5. BRUCE, John H,   b. 17 Aug 1826, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Dec 1915, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 89 years)
     6. BRUCE, Eleanor,   b. 1 Feb 1828, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Oct 1886  (Age 58 years)
     7. BRUCE, Margaret Jane,   b. 19 Jan 1830, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jan 1902, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years)
     8. BRUCE, David C,   b. 16 Jan 1834, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     9. BRUCE, William,   b. 12 Aug 1836, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Mar 1877, Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 40 years)
    Last Modified 7 Dec 2011 
    Family ID F4718  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map Click to hide
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 6 Aug 1776 - Elizabethtown, Lancaster, Pennsylvania Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1819 - Kentucky Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 23 Apr 1854 - Bruceville, Knox, Indiana Link to Google Earth
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